SENCO Newsletter - Spring 2021

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Welcome to the Spring edition of SENCO news

Join over 250 Cumbrian SENCO colleagues and sign up for the SENCO newsletter now to get useful information and content straight to your inbox. Please share with your colleagues and encourage them to sign up too!


Dear Colleagues,

I would like to begin by expressing my sincere thanks and appreciation for the fantastic work you continue to do in supporting some of our county's most vulnerable children during such a difficult and uncertain time. Families have told me about the positive difference having a supportive school and a SENCO who looks out for them can make during the pandemic, so I wanted to pass on their gratitude too.

This edition of SENCO news is packed with information and requests for action. Much of it relates to the county's SEND Improvement Programme where schools have an absolutely central role. If you need a refresher on the programme and the Written Statement of Action, have a look here.

I encourage you to take some time to go through the newsletter and discuss with relevant colleagues in school, and please do get in touch if you have any questions or feedback. This is your newsletter, so we would love to hear what you would like to see in future editions. Email us here with ideas, thoughts and feedback.

Thank you again for your continued support during these difficult times, and I hope you enjoy reading the rest of this edition of SENCO news.

Sally Senejko, Senior Manager SEND, Cumbria County Council

Help and guidance to support young people anxious in school


Supporting children with anxiety has never been more important

It is recognised nationally, and indeed globally, that the Coronovirus pandemic and the associated disruption to children's schooling is taking it's toll on their mental health and wellbeing.

We want to help you support children in your schools who may be feeling anxious, and so continue to add resources to the SEND Local Offer website weekly. You can find resources to help you support your children here. It's important to remember that anxiety can present in lots of different ways, will not always look like you would expect, and can present in lots of ways, including inattention, disruptive behaviour or physical symptoms such as a stomach ache.  

Inclusive Learning North are running Inclusion Forums via Zoom, with several dates available in March. The morning session is dedicated to Understanding Anxiety in Children. It will explore what anxiety is and how to support children and increase their resilience. Take a look at what it's all about here.

Sue Sanderson, Cumbria's Acting Principle Educational Psychologist has pulled out some particularly useful resources here 

Young minds resilience boat

Young minds self soothing mindfulness

Bertrand the bored story

Coronavirus anxiety workbook 

Working in partnership to strengthen the SEND system

Help us to support SENCOs across the county by telling us about your clusters and groups

We know that opportunities to share ideas and best practice are very important to you as SENCOs, and so we are working to better support you to do this.

We know that there are several SENCO clusters around the county, and would like you to get in touch and tell us about them. Tell us what your group is called, how often and where you meet, and if there is anything we can do to support you with your Cluster group. We can help advertise your meetings and provide space within this newsletter to share your good work.

We also have our SENCO network meetings. The next sessions are coming up in March and we are delighted to say they are fully booked. This does mean however that there may be some SENCOs who would like to attend but can't, so we're working hard to ensure that there are spaces for as many people who want to attend going forwards.

We also have the SENCO page on the Local offer here. Get in touch and tell us what you would like to see included on this page.

All of Us Forums for young people with SEND

All of us circle logo

The drive is on to increase participation and help young people with SEND through guidance and friendship with the All of Us groups

There are three All of Us groups which normally meet across the county, to give young people a chance to discuss what's happening in their education, what is going well and what they would like to change. The groups' work also fits into the SEND improvement plan as they are able to feedback their thoughts and any issues of concern to the ‘Co-production and Engagement’ working group.

The three All of Us groups have now moved online and have continued to meet as one whole forum throughout the pandemic. Recent discussions have covered issues such as mental health, the Duke of Edinburgh award, time with friends, independence, bullying and work experience.

The forums are open to any young people who have SEND, no matter what type of setting they attend and whether they have an EHCP or not. Most who attend are between the ages of 11 and 21.

We are asking schools, and SENCOs in particular, to encourage and support young people who might benefit, to get involved by attending one of the upcoming sessions (both following the same agenda). The session on the 17th is during school time, and we can help you to support students to get involved. The sessions will be held via Microsoft Teams on

Wednesday 10th March 4:30 – 5:30pm and Wednesday 17th March 2-3pm

Please email for more details or to register

Did you know? The SEND improvement programme has it's own newsletter

The newsletter is packed with helpful information and news of the ongoing improvements in health, social care and education

The newsletter is mainly aimed at parents and carers and goes out approximately every 6 weeks. The newsletter also has information relevant to practitioners too and anyone can sign up to received them. Please encourage parents and carers of children with SEND within your school to subscribe to the newsletter to stay up to date, and why not sign up yourself too? 

You can sign up here or copy and paste the link below to send out to your parent carers so they can subscribe as well

The Whole School SEND project launches

An exciting new project begins to improve SEN support across Cumbria

Whole school send logo

The Whole School SEND Consortium brings together schools, organisations and individuals who are committed to ensuring that every child and young person with SEND can achieve their potential at school.

The Whole School SEND Consortium is delivering the Department for Education SEND Schools’ Workforce Support Contract, and a trial, funded by the Education Endowment Fund is bringing together schools, organisations and individuals who are committed to ensuring that every child and young person with SEND can maximise their potential. 

Cumbria is excited to be part of this project, which works across schools to help them to meet the need of SEN support pupils through a toolkit of support and interventions which will help to ensure consistent, high quality support in school for all children and young people at the SEN support level of need. The project kicked off in January with a briefing to Headteachers, SEN Governors and SENCO’s and will deliver 7 sessions over the coming months, focusing on SEND reviewer training, teaching strategies and sustainability of the SEND school offer, all while working to create first rate tools and practices to be used for SEN support across the whole county.

EHCP assessments go ahead throughout the pandemic

Requests for an EHCP assessment can still be made via the Early Help process using the Cumbria Safeguarding Children's partnership link here, so please do continue to make requests for assessments if needed in the usual way. Guidance for initiating a statutory SEND assessment can be found on the SEND Local Offer website here.

Assessments themselves are also still going ahead making use of video and/or phone calls where in-person visits cannot be safely carried out, so again please ensure you continue to follow the normal processes and do highlight any delays or problems early so that they can be looked in to and rectified as soon as possible. We know it is essential that we continue to do the very best we can for children with SEND and their families throughout this difficult time.

Resources for SENCOs and families

Flynnes barn

Flynne's Barn counselling and family support project helps children affected by cancer or other health conditions during the pandemic

Referrals are welcome from young people, families or professionals/agencies by email or on 01768 800 686.

Criteria for Counselling
• For young people in Cumbria up to age 25
• Living with cancer or other illness that puts them in the high risk COVID-19 category
• Choice of telephone or online platform (Zoom)
• Assessment, followed by 10 sessions
• 30-50 minute sessions
• Delivered by qualified counsellors/psychotherapists (BACP/UKCP registration or equivalent)
• Choice of male/female counsellor

Criteria for Family Support
• For families in Cumbria with a young person living with cancer or other illness that puts them
in the high risk COVID-19 category
• Choice of telephone or online platform (Zoom)
• Support duration and content agreed in collaboration with family

The Education Endowment Foundation provide a series of 5 'bitesize evidence' recommendations direct to your inbox

Sign up here to receive a series of emails covering

  • An introduction to SEND
  • Creating a positive and supportive environment for all without exception
  • Building an ongoing holistic understanding of your pupil and their needs
  • Ensuring all pupils have access to high quality teaching
  • Complementing high quality teaching with carefully selected small group and 1 to 1 interventions
  • Working effectively with teaching assistants

Census and SEND register guidance published on the Local Offer website

A useful document detailing guidance on maintenance of SEND records, the SEND Census and the SEN Register has been published on the Local Offer website. The document is available to view here

Work underway to update Cumbria's SEND Local Offer website

Local offer logo

Cumbria's 'Local Offer' is the term used for the collection of services and support that Cumbria has available to children and young people with SEND and their families.

The Local offer website is the 'shop window' for these services and support, and following feedback from children and young people and their families, work is underway to make it more assessible. Families identified areas where improvements could be made such as content, navigation, interactivity and appearance of the website. 

There is also a Local Offer Facebook page. Set up towards the end of last year it regularly shares information, sources of support and general SEND tips. Check out the page and give it a 'like' here

You may also like to share these Local Offer resources with parents and carers of children with SEND in your school. You can copy and paste the links below into your communications with parents

SEND Local Offer Website

SEND Local Offer Facebook page

The SEND Improvement Programme needs your help

Can you help us find parents and carers of children with SEND who would be willing to help us improve services? 

The SEND Improvement Programme is looking for parents and carers of children with SEND to volunteer as Parent Reps, and they are asking SENCOs to help get the word out.

The programme is looking for parents from across the county, and all levels and types of additional need, but is especially interested to hear from parents and carers of children at the SEN support level of need. 

If you know any parents or carers who might be interested please ask them to contact Hayley Stewart, SEND Engagement and Communications Officer for more details and an informal chat about what is involved. They can email Hayley at

And finally...

Thank you

Thank you from the whole Inclusion Team for all that you have done and continue to do throughout the pandemic. 

We are here to help and support you throughout these difficult and unprecedented times, so please don't hesitate to get in touch here if you need more information, some additional support, or would like to discuss your thoughts and ideas for improvement.

We wish you all the best, and hope to see many of you at the SENCO network meetings in March.

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